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The makeSPACE Blog


Why Reflection?

Through reflection on creative experience, learning becomes visible both to the learner and the teacher.

Deeply integrated learning through the arts must include reflective practices that help students link their creative work with content learning and personal development. To facilitate this process, arts-integrated reflective routines are embedded throughout makeSPACE strategies.

According to philosopher, John Dewey, we don’t learn from experience, we learn from reflecting on experience. We all reflect casually on a regular basis, but may not do so deliberately. What exactly is reflection and why is it important? How can we reflect intentionally and effectively?


Reflection is indispensable to learning because it asks a learner to assess their perceptions using evidence and reason. Dewey described reflection as an “active, persistent, and careful consideration of any belief or supposed form of knowledge in the light of the grounds that support it, and further conclusions to which it leads.”

David A. Kolb’s experiential learning cycle frames reflection within a process of continual learning. We reflect on an experience, which results in generalizations or “takeaways.” These takeaways become new understandings that can inform future actions.

Importantly, opportunities to deepen understanding through reflection occur throughout the learning process, not just at the end. For instance, reflection early in the learning process can help learners establish goals toward mastery—what do I want to accomplish and why? Decades of research suggests that developing a mastery orientation toward learning rather than focusing on competition and performance leads to better learning outcomes. Researchers, such as Robert Sternberg, have suggested that developing the reflective capacity of learners may be one of most advantageous and transferable skills available.

MakeSPACE reflective routines apply these theories to creative engagement in and through the arts. In some cases the art form provides a modality for reflecting on any experience. For example, we might ask students to make a gesture that represents their response to today’s reading.

In other cases, the creative process is the ‘experience’ that becomes the focus of reflection. For example, we might ask students to write a 3-sentence artist statement that explains the thinking behind their prototype, including attention to class content and choice of materials. The emotional experience in learning can be a great focus of reflection, as well, providing students deeper understand about how emotions shape our learning. Mary Helen Immordino-Yang’s work illustrates the way that reflection makes us more strategic learners.

Whether focused on academic, creative, or emotional processes in learning, the development of learners’ reflective capacity is an essential, cross-cutting practice in arts integration for creative engagement.

Read More from the makeSPACE Team

The Labor of Delight

In July 2018, poet, teacher, and author Ross Gay had an idea—what might happen if he wrote about something he found delightful as a daily practice for a whole year straight.

Billy Loves His Bees

Artcore teacher, Billy Hughes, recently created a video for the Network Charter School Showcase, a typically live celebration of school community talent and interests that has pivoted to a youtube video share in these Covidian times. It was all about his love of bees!

What is Metaphor? And why is it important?

We all know authors use metaphors to brighten up stories, but what role do they play in our everyday lives and how can we use them to convey information and open minds to new ways of thinking?​

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We want young people and their teachers to be fulfilled, to feel agency, and to shape their own lives and the world around them. We want them to thrive within the possible - as the world offers them moment after moment of uncertainty.